Astronaut Shannon Walker escaped her daily duties at the International Space Station on Friday to share her space experience with New Hampshire children.
Students from Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua were able to successfully contact with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station with assistance from ground station AB10C in Hollis — a project that has been months in the making.
“We have about 150 different experiments going on up here right now,” Walker told the students during their five-minute space chat.
Stressing that human space flight is imperative for the planet, Walker answered about 20 questions from a group of 10 students. Walker, who is serving as flight engineer for NASA’s Expedition 64, is currently participating in her second long-term visit to the ISS.
“I was four years old when we first landed on the moon. I have wanted to be an astronaut ever since then,” she told the students.
Karen Crivac, a science teacher at Bishop Guertin, said her students have shown overwhelming enthusiasm for STEM-related curriculum topics, including space exploration.
“And by communicating with the ISS, we are growing their understanding of how the space program impacts their life through wireless communication, computer and software technology and health and life research,” Crivac said in a statement.
The Nashua Area Radio Society helped coordinate the contact with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, which was met with applause from students once Walker’s voice was broadcasted; the virtual experience was aired live on YouTube.
“The best thing about being in space is being in space — you get to float around all the time,” said Walker.
Connor Reeves, a sophomore at Bishop Guertin, asked Walker what she has learned from her space exploration.
One of the most interesting things, according to Walker, is instinctively knowing how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere based on how her body feels.
“In space you have no sense of up and down and you don’t really feel anything on your body,” she said of the zero gravity, comparing it to floating in water, but without having the sense of water actually touching.
Ian Winiarski, a junior at Bishop Guertin, asked Walker for any advice she would give to new astronauts heading to the ISS.
“It is very important to take the time to smell the roses,” she said, stressing the importance of enjoying every moment — without working too hard.
Crivac described Friday’s experience as an incredible opportunity for the student body at Bishop Guertin. She said the private school has a strong track record of preparing students for careers in STEM, with about 38% of its graduates completing their degrees in a STEM field.